The Gospel of Mark #21 - The Transfiguration
The Gospel of Mark #21:
Text: Mark 9:2-13
Thesis: To see a glimpse of Jesus’ glory in order to encourage us to follow Him.
(1) The apostles were still puzzled by Jesus’ revelation of the coming crucifixion.
(2) Possibly, their faith was wavering.
(3) Possibly, Jesus is discouraged by their lack of faith.
(4) Whatever the reason, the timing was right for the transfiguration event.
I. The Story:
A. This event picks up six days since “Peter’s confession and Christ’s first prediction of the passion and the resurrection” (Hendriksen 338) had passed.
B. Jesus took Peter, James & John to a high mountain (“The traditional location of the ‘high mountain is Mt. Tabor in lower Galilee … Most contemporary scholars, however, think Mt. Hermon, about twelve miles north of Caesarea Philippi, is a much more likely identification for this ‘high mountain’” [Brooks 141]).
C. As they were on the mountain, Jesus was “transfigured” before them.
1. “ ‘To transfigure,’ from the Gk. metamorphoun, carries the root meaning ‘to change.’ The verb occurs only four times in the Greek Bible (9:2; Matt. 17:2; Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18), and in each instance it denotes a radical transformation” (Edwards 263).
2. ‘Shining’ (stilbein) “is the word which is used for the glistening gleam of burnished brass or gold, or of polished steel, or of the golden glare of the sunlight” (Barclay 215).
3. “In the Old Testament and other pre-Christian Jewish literature shining white clothing is characteristic of the heavenly world – the attire of angels and the future attire of the righteous (e.g., Dan. 10:5-6; 12:3)” (Black 163).
4. From Daniel 7:9-10, we may assume that this transformation is “a visual verification of Jesus’ claim to be the ‘son of man’ who will come in the glory of his father with the holy angels” (Evans 36).
5. Also, we know from Matthew 17:2 and Luke 9:29 that Jesus’ face also was shining on this occasion.
D. As this was going on, Moses and Elijah appear and converse with Jesus.
1. From Luke 9:31, we learn that the topic of the discussion was Jesus’ departure (i.e., the crucifixion and resurrection).
2. “Moses represented the Law and Elijah represented the Prophets, both of which find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ (Luke 24:25-27; Heb. 1:1-2)” (Wiersbe 1:141).
E. Not knowing what to say, Peter suggested building three tabernacles.
1. “To have erected shelters as Peter wished would have put Jesus on the same level as Moses and Elijah” (Brooks 142-43).
2. Possibly, Peter may have also hinted at the possibility of staying on the mountain in order to avoid the crucifixion in the valley below.
F. A cloud surrounded them and a voice spoke from the cloud in order to clarify that Jesus is God’s Son and everyone needs to hear what He says.
1. “A study of the Old Testament reveals that a luminous cloud, the Shekinah glory, was a sign and manifestation of the presence of God, the form in which God revealed himself to Israel” (Hughes 2:16).
2. “The superiority of Jesus over Moses and Elijah is made clear both by identifying Jesus as God’s Son and by the sudden disappearance of Moses and Elijah at the time of the heavenly voice” (Black 164).
3. “What then are they to hear? Peter and the rest of the disciples must keep quiet and bend their minds around what Jesus says about his suffering” (Garland 346).
G. Jesus then commanded His disciples not to speak immediately about what had taken place.
1. “There is no way rightly to understand who Jesus is until one has seen him suffer, die and rise again” (English 165).
2. The disciples kept it to themselves, but they did discuss it with each other.
H. The disciples then asked Jesus a question about Elijah.
1. The Jewish scribes taught that Elijah must first come again before the Messiah can set up His kingdom.
2. Jesus agreed with what the scribes taught.
a. Malachi 4:5-6 records the prophecy that Elijah would come again.
b. According to Matthew 11:13-14 and 17:10-13, John the Baptist was the prophesied Elijah.
c. Jesus also stressed that just as John was put to death, then He must also be put to death. [Note: “The formula ‘it is written’ attests to the divine will ordained and prescribed for the Son of Man” (Edwards 274)].
II. The Application:
A. Jesus is wholly Divine and the Son of God (cf. 2 Pet. 1:16-18 – Peter states that the transfiguration showed him Jesus’ majesty).
B. Jesus is the authoritative Word.
1. John calls Him the Word (John 1:1-5).
2. He alone has the words of life (John 6:68).
3. God is speaking through Him today (Heb. 1:2).
C. Jesus will be glorified only after He is crucified.
1. From Philippians 2:5-11, we learn that Jesus was highly exalted after the crucifixion.
2. Implication – “If we want to share the glory of Christ on the mountaintop, we must be willing to follow Him into the sufferings of the valley below” (Wiersbe 1:141).
(1) Jesus shows us a glimpse of His glory and confirms that He is God’s Son.
(2) What will we do with Him?